Leng, John (DNB00)

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LENG, JOHN (1665–1727), bishop of Norwich, was born at Thornton le Dale, near Pickering, in Yorkshire, in 1665. He received his early education at St. Paul's School, and obtained an exhibition at Catharine Hall, Cambridge, where he was admitted a sizar 26 March 1683. He graduated B.A. in 1686. His subsequent degrees were M.A. 1690, B.D. 1698, D.D. 1716. He was elected fellow of his college 13 Sept. 1688, and subsequently became a very efficient tutor. He obtained great distinction as a Latin scholar. In 1695 he published the ‘Plutus’ and the ‘Nubes’ of Aristophanes, with a Latin translation, and in 1701 he edited the magnificent Cambridge Terence, adding a dissertation on the metres of the author. He also published a revised edition of Sir Roger L'Estrange's translation of Cicero's ‘Offices.’ At the consecration of the new chapel of his college by Patrick, bishop of Ely, in 1701, he preached the sermon. In 1708 he was presented by his old pupil, Sir Nicholas Carew, to the rectory of Beddington, Surrey, which he held in commendam to his death. In 1717 and 1718 he delivered the Boyle lectures, which were published the following year, his subject being ‘The Natural Obligations to believe the Principles of Religion and Divine Revelation.’ He became chaplain in ordinary to George I, and in 1723 was appointed bishop of Norwich. He was consecrated at Lambeth by Archbishop Wake on 3 Nov. of the same year. He held the see barely three years, having died in London of small-pox, caught at the coronation of George II, 26 Oct. 1727. He was buried in St. Margaret's, Westminster, where a mural tablet was erected to his memory in the south aisle of the chancel (Walcot, Hist. of St. Margaret's, p. 19). During his short episcopate Leng had gained the good opinion of his diocese as ‘a man of modesty and diligence,’ than whom ‘no one could be further from pride, or show more true humility in his station,’ and his premature death was much lamented. Whiston calls him ‘a good and learned man’ (Memoirs, p. 547). Leng was twice married. By his first wife he had no children. By his second, Elizabeth, daughter of a ‘Mr. Hawes of Sussex,’ he had two daughters, Elizabeth and Susanna.

Leng published fourteen single sermons, preached on public occasions, among which was one preached before the Society for the Reformation of Manners at Bow Church, 29 Dec. 1718. His ‘Boyle Lectures’ passed to a second edition. They were regarded as ‘solid and weighty, clear and concise in statement, well-reasoned throughout, enriched with the fruit of much learning, gracefully but not pedantically exhibited.’

[Blomefield's Hist. of Norfolk, vol. iii.; Abbey's The English Church and its Bishops, ii. 34.]

E. V.